Checking your credit score used to cost $20 or so each time you looked it up. That was until recently when companies like Borrowell and Credit Karma started making them available for free.
This easy access to your credit score means you can monitor it for fraudulent activity as well as for changes if you are working on improving it.
Read on to learn about all the different ways you can obtain your free credit score in Canada. I also touch on credit reports, what they tell you, and how to get them.
What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 900 that tells lenders whether or not you are creditworthy.
Your credit score is calculated by the credit bureaus using your financial information that is collected from various sources.
When you have a good to excellent credit score, you are more likely to qualify for competitive rates on personal loans, credit cards, and other credit products.
If you have a bad or poor credit score, getting approved for credit is a lot harder and you pay very high interest rates.
Overall, your credit score is a reflection of the risks a lender faces when they loan you money. One way to break down scores into different categories is this one below by Borrowell:
- Excellent credit score: 741-900
- Good credit score: 713-740
- Fair credit score: 660-712
- Below Average credit score: 575-659
- Poor credit score: 300-574
How To Get a Free Credit Score
If you want to check your credit score with TransUnion or Equifax and monitor it on a monthly basis, it may cost you up to $20 each month.
Instead of going through these credit bureaus, you can access your credit score through financial technology companies like Borrowell, Credit Karma, and Mogo.
Borrowell was the first company to offer free credit scores in Canada.
The platform has over 1 million members and it provides free weekly updates to your credit score and report.
To get started, simply sign up here. The process takes about 3 minutes and you don’t need to provide any payment details.
Benefits of Borrowell
- Access to free Equifax credit scores based on the Equifax Risk Score model.
- Free credit education through an AI-powered Credit Coach with personalised tips.
- Bank-level security using 256-bit encryption.
- Access to rates comparisons for various products including mortgages, credit cards, loans, and insurance.
- Free bill tracking so you never miss a bill payment, and you get alerts when you have a low balance.
Mogo is a fintech with offices in Vancouver, Surrey, and Winnipeg.
It has more than 1 million members who use the platform to access free credit scores, identity fraud protection, and bitcoin trading.
To get started, sign up here. It takes only a few minutes and it is free.
Benefits of Mogo
- Access to a free monthly Equifax credit score
- Provides identity fraud monitoring
- You can compare personal loan and mortgage rates on the platform
3. Credit Karma
Credit Karma is a personal finance company operating in Canada and the United States. It offers access to a free TransUnion credit score and credit report on a monthly basis.
The company also has a platform where you can compare credit cards, personal loans, and mortgage rates.
Learn more about the platform in this Credit Karma review.
What is a Credit Report
A credit report is a summary of your credit activity. It shows potential lenders how you have used debt in the past and whether you make repayments on time.
Some of the information captured in a credit report include:
- Personal information (name, dates of birth, employment, address, etc)
- Credit account information including types of accounts (e.g. credit card, mortgage, car loan), account balances, and payment history.
- Credit inquiries which may be “hard” or “soft. A soft inquiry occurs when you pull your own credit report and hard inquiry occurs when a lender pulls your credit file while reviewing your credit application.
- Bankrupties, collections, and other information on the public record e.g. court judgements, and liens.
How To Get a Free Credit Report
If you are already signed up for Borrowell, you can check your free credit report every week.
Alternatively, you can request a free credit report from both Equifax and TransUnion once a year.
Equifax Free Credit Report
There are three ways to request a free Equifax credit report.
Phone: Call their Interactive Application Voice Response system at 1-800-465-7166. You will need to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN). Your credit report is mailed to your home address within 5-10 business days.
Paper Application: Complete the form and mail it to Equifax along with copies of two valid government-issued IDs. One of the IDs must show your current home address.
Mail the package to: Equifax Canada Co., National Consumer Relations, Box 190, Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2.
In-Person Application: You can visit one of Equifax’s locations in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, or Charlottetown to request your credit report.
TransUnion Free Credit Report
TransUnion’s free credit report is referred to as a “Consumer Disclosure”. You can access it by mail, online, or through their phone service.
Online Application: Visit the online portal to view or download your credit report.
Mail Application: Complete the consumer request form and mail it alongside copies of two eligible IDs e.g. passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, PR card, OAS card, etc.
Mail the package to: TransUnion Consumer, Relations Department, 3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201 Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N8.
In-Person Application: Visit one of their provincial offices in Halifax or Toronto.
How To Improve Your Credit Score
An excellent credit score makes it easy to qualify for credit when you need it. To improve your score, try the following strategies:
- Don’t miss dues dates – pay all your bills and credit balances on time.
- Keep your credit utilization below 30% i.e. use only 30% or less of your credit limit at any point in time.
- Check your credit report for errors and dispute inaccuracies when they occur.
- Don’t submit too many credit applications within a short period of time.
- Use credit wisely.
If you want to stay on top of your credit score, you can start for free.
Credit Score FAQs
You can use Borrowell for free weekly updates.
When you check your own credit score, it is a ‘soft’ inquiry that does not impact it. When a lender checks your credit score because you have applied for credit, it is hard inquiry that may lower your credit score.
A bad credit score in Canada ranges from 300 to 574.
The credit score you get through Borrowell is based on Equifax’s proprietary model and may be different from the one used by lenders who are assessing your risk profile.
The credit score you see on Credit Karma is based on the Credit Vision Risk scoring model and it may differ from what is used by other third parties.
Snappy Rates is your go-to for credit card comparisons and the best banking, investing, insurance, loans, mortgages, and personal finance guides in Canada.